(0)20 7407 1478

855 625 2753 US

Monthly Archives: October 2013

Necro-tourism in Quetzaltenango

DSCN2954

A moonlight tour of a cemetery is not your average idea of a good night out. However, in the highland town of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala visitors are being offered the chance to do just that. During our two hour walk between the graves at full moon, a local guide Ernan shows the varying architectural styles of the mausoleums and once colourful characters that now rest here. Sound creepy? Well, it’s actually very interesting.

‘I advice you not to separate from the group’ says Ernan with a serious tone. ‘If you hear or see something, it’s not special effects’. He begins to smile. We walk through the entrance of the cemetery. He tells us that the elaborate entrance was built to commemorate the Sixth State of the Highlands. The effigies of presidents, former mayors and scaled down replicas of pyramids, churches and monuments can be seen everywhere. We arrive at an underground tomb. ‘Whoever wishes to enter will, for a few minutes, be in the world of the dead’ challenges Ernan. No one does.

As we walk through the cemetery he provides a fascinating insight into the local history and the different families that influenced the region. The Castillo family, for example, were owners of the local brewery, the Sanchez were credited as being the pioneers of Guatemalan football and the Enriquez built the first shopping centre in Central America. The stories of musicians, poets, painters, athletes and politicians that now rest here weave a captivating story, made all the more intriguing under the full moon.

To visit the take the cemetery tour or visit anywhere in Guatemala please do get in touch.

RELATED: Must-do things in Guatemala on your first trip

Day of the Dead

flickr/carmichaellibrary

flickr/carmichaellibrary

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is often confused with Halloween as it closely follows the holiday. Its true origins stem back to the Aztec festival that honours the goddess Michacacihuatl, also known as Lady of the Dead. The 1st November is traditionally the Dia de los Angelitos or Day of the Little Angels where the infants and children that has passed away can be remember. The 2nd November is the Day of the Dead. Mexicans believe that on these days the souls of lost loved ones return to earth to be with their family once more.

Individuals celebrate the holiday in different ways. Some grieve or mourn; others use the day as a light hearted way of reflecting on lost relatives. A typical symbol of the Day of the Dead are the Catrina figures – skeletons dressed in formal clothing, originating as a parody poking fun at the upper class Mexican female. Other traditions involve reciting short poems called calaveritas that highlight the funny moments shared with the deceased in the past.

The way Mexican’s celebrate varies from region to region. The cemetery tends to play a large role in the celebrations with offers of favourite food and drinks of the deceased left at the graves.  Colourful events and celebrations are often accompanied by music, costumes, food and drink and involve both adults and children.

Good places to see the celebrations are San Miguel de Allende, Oaxaca, Mixquic in Mexico City or Patzcuaro in Michocan. To visit the day of the dead celebrations in 2014 or any part of the Mexico please get in touch.

RELATED: Interesting facts about Mexico you probably didn’t know

Homage to Jorge Luis Borges [VID]

“Poets, like the blind, can see in the dark.” Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges was an Argentine poet and writer. Born in 1899 in Buenos Aires, he soon moved with his family to Switzerland and later travelled around Europe, particularly Spain before returning to his native country. Once back in Argentina in 1921 he began to publish his writing, mainly essays and poems in surrealist literary journals. Much of his work can be classed as within the genre of Magical Realism. He worked for some time as a librarian and public lecturer and was initially a supporter of the military juntas that overthrew the Peron regime, he was anti-communist and anti-fascist. In the late fifties Borges became blind due to a hereditary condition, although continued to write and became the professor of Literature at the University of Buenos Aires in the 1960s. He was also fluent in a number of European languages.

In was only in the 1960s that Borges work gained worldwide attention, mainly due to translations into English. His surrealist work has a large impact of philosophical literature as well as the fantasy genre. His most famous work Ficciones published in 1944 is compilation of short stories woven together with a common theme. Philosophy, labyrinths, religion and god were all common subjects in his work. Borges’ work has paved the way for a new generation of Spanish American writers.

The video is homage to his work by Ian Ruschel.

Visit Argentina Journey Ideas to start your adventure to the Buenos Aires

RELATED: These 21 quotes prove that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was a hopeless romantic

A foodie guide to Belize

flickr/mariskar

flickr/mariskar

Belizean cuisine is a fusion food – a mix of Mexican, African, Caribbean, Spanish and of course Mayan. If in doubt, always steer towards seafood. Delicious catches of fish, prawns and lobster are freely available and extremely good value. Rice and peas are a staple for Belizeans and served with almost every meal. The dish differs from it Caribbean origins with the use of red instead of black beans. Note the subtle name difference, if you order ‘beans and rice’ you will be greeted with a plate the ingredients cooked and served separately. Another favourite among Belizeans are stews in various forms. Typical chicken, beef and fish stews packed with dark spices are commonly served in local restaurants. Black Gumbo or chimole is delicious and can also be found in most local eateries.

On most tables you will find Marie Sharp’s Hot Sauce, made from habanera peppers, onions and carrots which is dolloped onto almost everything eaten and peeps up even the blandest of dishes. Breakfast varies from region to region. Typical Belizeans eat eggs along with refried beans served up on tortillas. Jonnycakes (a dry baked biscuit) and fry jacks (a deep fried batter dusted with sugar) are also commonly eaten in the morning. For a snack try conch fritters, delicious deep fried conch and batter balls. Belizeans also have their own take on empanadas – small meat filled pastries.  Much of the meat served in dishes is wild and fairly adventurous to the western palettes. Gibnut (a large rodent), iguanas, sea turtles, wild boar and armadillo are not uncommon. Please note wild game hunting is having an impact on the country’s environment so be careful what and where you eat.

Fruit in Belize is particularly abundant. Delicious ripe papayas, melons, bananas and mangos can be found almost everywhere. Vegetables however are a little harder to come by. Simple grated cabbage or potatoes are the only vegetables that typically adorn the side of a main dish. Wash everything down with fresh juices made from limes, oranges, mangoes and pineapple or try one of the many varieties of excellent Belizean beer. Guinness fans will be pleased to know that the stout is produced here and is readily available.

To start your foodie journey to Belize please see our holiday ideas.

RELATED: 10 things you should eat in Belize

Tayos Caves Open for the Adventurous

800px-Oilbirds

The Tayos Caves in Ecuador have opened to the public for the first time. These remote caverns also known as la cueva de los tayos or cave of the oilbirds are located in the Morona Santiago district surrounded by tropical rainforest and the Sangay National Park.

To access the caves you must first drop down through a 63 metre deep tunnel called the chimney. Once inside many Palaeolithic artefacts dating back from 48,000 to 12,000 BC can be found. Alongside these are ceramics created by the pre-Shuar civilisation in around 3,000 BC.

The opening of these caves will be a real boost for tourism and the economy in the region. Many of the local people are being trained as guides to allow communities in the area to create a sustainable tourism industry. The oilbirds are a kind of nightjar that have sonar similar to bats and feed on palm fruits at night. The name comes from the fat in the chicks which were rendered down into oil by the natives.

Please contact us if you would like to be one of the first to visit the Tayos Caves or anywhere in Ecuador.

RELATED: Top 10 places to visit in Ecuador

4 Brazilian drinks you’ve probably never heard of

flickr - Leeo flickr/Leeo :}’

Many think of the Caipirinha when thinking of Brazilian drinks, and rightly so.  A delicious mix of Cachaça Brazilian rum, ice and lime juice – it’s refreshing and tasty. There are however many Brazilian drinks that you have not heard of. Here’s a rundown of just a few.

1.  Batida
In a nutshell, Batidas is an alcoholic smoothie. Purchase at one of the many stalls dotted along Brazil’s vast stretches of beach. Ask for which fruit you would like and they’ll blend it with cachaça, ice and plenty of sugar to create a wonderfully refreshing afternoon tipple.

2. Vitamina de abacate
Weird for most northern Europeans but Brazilians class avocados as a fruit. All over the country Brazilians blend it with sugar and milk to make a delicious green breakfast smoothie. It may seem a little odd but trust us, it works.

3. Suco de caju
Suco de caju is a cashew juice served by throughout the country and again is very popular for breakfast. Pop into any pandaria (Brazilian bakery) and you’ll find ice cold juices for sale.

4. Caldo de cana
Only try if you have a serious sweet tooth. Caldo de cana is pure sugar cane pressed through a machine to create a juice. Some vendors add lime to the beverage to give it a little zing.

To sip on any of the above yourself please visit our Brazil Journey Ideas

RELATED: Top 5 holidays in Brazil

make-an-enquiry

create-your-journey